Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
My name is Kari Bartkus, and today, we are wrapping up a series about posturing our hearts to hear from God.
As women who are going through difficult seasons—or as those caring for those going through difficult seasons—we are constantly seeking God’s guidance and presence, aren’t we?
These four heart postures, each beginning with the letter R, help us to hear from God.
The first R was about getting ready to meet with God. The second R was about recognizing God’s voice and movement in our lives. The third R was about receiving what it was God had for us, whether it was a promise from His Word or an invitation to trust or rest or forgive.
The fourth R, which we’ll talk about today, is respond. We are called to respond to whatever it was God shared with us.
Respond Means to Obey
So not only are we accepting it, believing it, but we are willing to take action in regard to it. In most cases, this looks like good old-fashioned obedience.
If God invites us to grieve, are we going to take the time and space we need to grieve?
If God invites us to celebrate, are we going to explore ways to rejoice and give thanks?
If God guides us to a certain decision, are we willing to move forward in that direction, even if we don’t understand it all right now?
And you guys, I want to share something with you. Last night, the night before I am recording this episode, I was reading through 2 Peter, and do you know what it says in chapter 1 verse 5? “Make every effort to respond to God’s promises.”
That’s it right there, isn’t it? Respond to God’s promises. Take Him at His Word. Do what He says. You can trust Him. You can lean on Him. He cares so very much about you. He will do what He says He will do.
Other translations say to apply your diligence to His promises. Peter had been writing about God giving us everything we need to live a godly life, how He has given us great and precious promises, and then he reminds us that we need to take action, too.
So respond to His promise. Respond to His Word. Respond to the invitation He has shared with you. Respond by taking action, by being obedient.
We see this throughout the Bible as various people obey what God had called them to do.
- Ananias went to Saul and prayed over him, even though he had been, up to that point, an enemy of the Christians.
- Joseph obeyed the dreams God gave him—he married Mary, he moved to Egypt, he traveled to Nazareth.
- The people of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground… and through the Jordan River.
- Hannah gave her son Samuel to the Lord and let him be raised in the Temple.
I mean, it’s incredible to watch these individuals obey the Lord, isn’t it? Even when they maybe didn’t understand. But we can do the very same thing. We can obey, too.
God’s Love Language
Now, I want to pause this discussion for a moment and remind you about the Five Love Languages, from Gary Chapman. Have you heard of those? He shares the idea that each of us receives love best in one of these five forms: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts, or acts of service. It’s not that we don’t receive love in the other ways; just that we’re wired to receive one or two of them better than the others.
And so, if we want to show our spouse or our children love, we’re encouraged to uncover what their love language is and then act in a way that communicates our love to them in that way.
For example, if my daughter’s love language is quality time, but I try to shower her with gifts… it might mean a little something to her and she might appreciate it, but it won’t mean anything like taking her out for some one-on-one time. Does that make sense?
Now, as I’ve read through the Scriptures, I think I’ve uncovered what God’s love language is, if we’re going to use that phrase. And it’s not one of the five Chapman listed in his book. You want to know what I think God’s love language is? Obedience.
In John 14:15 (NLT), Jesus says, “If you love me, obey my commands.” And again in verse 21, He says, “Those who accept my commands and obey them are the ones who love me.”
There’s also 1 John 2:5 (NLT): “Those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.”
Isn’t that beautiful?
So if we love God, we will want to obey Him. We’ll want to do what He says. We’ll want to accept His invitations and respond to them, take action.
What Obedience Can Look Like
So let’s break this down even more. Because sometimes obedience is easy to figure out. God told Noah to build a boat and he built a boat, right? God told Abraham to travel to an unknown land and Abraham started packing.
But what about when God invites you to do something a bit more intangible?
Like, what if God asks you to trust Him?
I would venture to say that even on something seemingly intangible, there will be something you can do with your thoughts, your emotions, your body to act out in obedience.
So maybe trusting God means that when the worries start to weigh you down, you choose to stop thinking about them, you choose to bring them to God and lay them at His feet, and then you choose to start thinking about more godly things—things that are pure, lovely, admirable, and so on, as we’re encouraged to do in Philippians chapter 4.
Maybe trusting God means that you let others make their own choices instead of you making all of their decisions for them. So you back off, and you don’t take control, and you prayerfully and intentionally say, “God, I trust You with this situation and with this friend of mine. You care about her even more than I do. You’ve got this.” And maybe even you decide to give your friend some space so she can prayerfully discern what to do, and in the meantime, you’re actively doing something different.
Maybe trusting God looks like declining the medical treatment… or accepting the medical treatment… or pulling your kids out of public school… or putting your kids into public school… or applying for the scholarship… or working hard to earn the money you need… or taking a loan…
You see how trusting God can look different in different situations? There is no one way to trust God. It will depend on what is going on in your life. So listen for His invitation, receive it, and then respond to it.
But sometimes we get stuck here. Maybe we want to believe, we want to receive what He has for us, but we’re afraid to actually do something about it. Maybe we fear what others will think, or we are nervous about what the consequences will be if we do as He asked us to do.
In this case, my invitation to you is this: be like the father who uttered before Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24 NLT). Jesus met him in that in-between place of believing, yet not believing. And He will meet you there, too.
Then, when you’re ready, take the step of faith anyway. Even if it’s a tiny one. Faith isn’t always perfect. It isn’t always neat. It isn’t always brave and courageous. There are times when I do something metaphorically shaking in my boots. But I’m trusting God to keep growing that faith in me to do what He is asking me to do. Because I love Him, and I want to show Him I love Him through my obedience.
So keep talking to God about what is stirring in your heart, keep paying attention to what He is saying to you, and keep an open heart to do what He is inviting you to do.
So there you have it: the 4 R’s to posturing your heart to hear from God: ready, recognize, receive, and respond.
Which one do you think is the hardest for you? Where are you getting stuck? What invitations or promises is God offering to you right now? Are you ready to receive them?
If you are looking to learn more about discernment and hearing from God, there’s a link in the show notes that will take you to all the podcast episodes related to discernment. Just click on that and listen to the ones that piqué your interest.
As we close, I want to remind you that the next round of Journal Gently starts October 3. It is an 8-week program designed to help you process grief and trauma together with God through writing. If you want to learn more about inviting God into your healing journey, if you want to take some time to recognize His voice and presence in your life, it really is a sacred and safe space to do so.
Next week on the podcast, we are going to chat with certified life coach and spiritual director Gem Fadling about her new book Hold That Thought, and I really think a lot of conversation will correspond with what we’ve been talking about in this series about posturing our heart to hear from God, so I’m excited to share that with you.
Okay, that is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
BIBLE VERSES & RESOURCES:
- “If you love me, obey my commands.” (John 14:15 NLT)
- “Those who accept my commands and obey them are the ones who love me.” (John 14:21 NLT)
- “Those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.” (1 John 2:5 NLT)
- “The father instantly cried out, ‘I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:24 NLT)
- Podcast episodes about discernment
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.